alone on Valentine's DayI once got a bouquet of flowers from my landlord on Valentine’s day.  It wasn’t a romantic gift, but one of appreciation.  I often walked her dog for her and she chose to acknowledge it on Valentine’s day.

I have to admit that that year I was feeling a bit forlorn, surrounded by people who were all a part of a couple.  But the flowers lifted my spirits and since then I’ve taken a different view of Valentine’s day.

Some say that Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday.  Nevertheless, for those who aren’t romantically involved it’s a reminder of their solitary status.  Even if you’re ok with being single, the constant reminders and the tributes to coupledom that surround the holiday can be depressing.

But, have you ever viewed the holiday as an opportunity to express your gratitude and contribute to others?  In DBT the distress tolerance skills teach us that contributing to others can make us feel better about ourselves and can help us survive crisis.  I think that same strategy can be applied surviving Valentine’s day on your own.

Contributing is about doing for other in large or small ways.  Consider how you would feel receiving chocolate as a token of appreciation from your neighbor or a homemade card saying how much she cares from a friend’s child.  How about if you got a note from a high school friend expressing their appreciation for your years of friendship?

Rather than focusing on what you don’t have this year, try focusing on contributing to others.  What can you do to add a little something to someone else’s day?  Small and thoughtful gestures can make others feel good and have the pleasant side effect of improving your mood as well.

Have you ever been the recipient of an unexpected thoughtful act?  How did it make you feel?  What have you done to improve someone else’s day?

Use the comments section below to answer any of those questions or suggest ways to contribute to others this Valentine’s day.

Photo by el nino sincero, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.